New unemployment claims in Washington fell again last week as the state labor market showed new signs of recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic.
Washington filed 11,398 new or “preliminary” lawsuits last week, down 2.6 percent from the previous week, the State Department of Labor Safety said Thursday.
The ESD also reported 24,500 new jobs for February, the biggest increase since the state added 30,500 jobs in August.
“Reducing restrictions on controlling the spread of COVID-19 helps those in leisure and hospitality get back to work,” said Paul Turek, an economist at ESD. “But employment was widespread in other sectors as well, and the unemployment rate fell accordingly.”
Washington’s unemployment rate for February was 5.6% instead of 6% in January, the ESD reported last week. The US unemployment rate was 6.2%.
The latest drop in unemployment claims, the fifth consecutive weekly decline, comes a year after Washington struck the first major wave of unemployment claims, 128,962, filed in 2020. During the week ending March 21.
Last week’s new claims, however, were still high by historical standards. Approximately double the level for the same week of 2019.
New unemployment claims fell 12.4 percent to 684,000 last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The rent continues to accelerate. The nation added 379,000 jobs in February, more than double the January figure.
The ESD also revised the number of jobs added in Washington from 4,400 to 10,100 in January.
Recruitment was particularly strong in the hospitality industry, which saw sharp job losses during the epidemic. The sector added 12,700 jobs in February.
Still, the state labor market has plenty of grounds to recover before the recovery is complete.
The state had a total workforce of 3,837,400 in February, or 124,600 less than in February 2020, according to the ESD.
The total number of weekly or ongoing lawsuits filed in Washington last week was down 4.3% from the previous week to 417,021.
Last week, ESD paid benefits for 307,364 individual claims, down about 1% from the previous week. Because individuals can have multiple claims, the number of claims is often slightly more than the number of individual claimants.
More than $ 1 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid to more than 1 million Washington residents since March 2020, about two-thirds of which comes from the federal government.
For comparison, each year for the past 10 years, the annual ESD repayment has averaged more than $ 1 billion, said Nick Demeris, spokesman for the agency.